John Davenant: Good Works

In the last article, I looked at John Davenant’s discussion on the formal cause of our justification. Now I will turn to his discussion of the role of good works in light of our justification in Christ.
Davenant is at pains to refute the common Romanist accusation that Protestants deny the necessity of good works. In particular, he focuses upon correcting Bellarmine’s caricature of the Protestant position which is that Protestants believe that good works are not conditionally connected to salvation and are only necessary to attest or evidence true faith; and answering Bellarmine’s criticisms of the Protestant position on good works. In so doing, he fervently and repeatedly affirms that good works play an active and positive role in salvation.
Davenant defines good works as those which are "wrought by the regenerate now, and flow from a heart purified by faith" and they may be external like feeding the hungry or internal such as trusting God. Good works are necessary for a variety of reasons. Believers must engage in good works in order to submit to God’s command, express gratitude, satisfy one’s conscience, avoid punishment, be assured of salvation, edify one’s neighbor and glorify God. There is even a causal necessity to good works in that if the Spirit abides in a person then he will bear fruit. But what is more, Davenant affirms that good works are conditionally necessary for salvation.

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from Meet the Puritans


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